Root amputation

root resection crown prep

What is a root amputation, root resection and a hemisection?

Root amputation and root resection are synonyms for each other. Root resection and root hemisection are often found online together because the procedure itself is similar. However, the reason for using either treatment is very different.

What’s a root resection or root amputation?

A root resection (root amputation) is the surgical removal of one root of a tooth, leaving the healthy root(s) of the tooth behind. This is most often done with upper molars when the MB2 is not found and a root canal fails. Often an apicoectomy was unsuccessful and this is a resection of the root is the last chance to save the tooth.

A tooth that has a root resection will need a new crown and the design can be tricky. There will be a deep indentation in the area.

Crown prep of tooth with a root resection.
Images of a tooth with a root resection and the crown prep and crown for the tooth.

Other root amputation cases.

Another reason to do a root amputation is when the tooth just has a one bad root for some reason. The reason could be decay or bone loss.

Root amputation of an infected palatal root.
We can do a root amputation on any root but the palatal root is uncommon in comparison to the mesial buccal root.

What’s a hemisection of a tooth?

A hemisection is when we surgically cut a two into individual roots. This may result in the removal of a tooth root, which is then a resection. We do this most often on lower molars with periodontal disease. By creating two teeth we can often make the area more cleansable for a patient. When the patient can clean the teeth better, we extend the life of a tooth. This procedure has become so out of date that I am fairly certain I have not seen one in 15 years of practice. Pre-dental implant that would not have been the case.

When do we do a hemisection or a root resection?

The answer to this is in each what is section above. However, with the advent of dental implants and their gain in popularity both of these procedures are far less common. Going back to 1998, there was already literature review showing a dental implant is better. It is difficult today to say that there are very many instances where doing these procedures still makes a lot of sense. There exist two instances where we think they are still useful. First of all is for very old patients that need 10 years or less from a tooth. Secondly would be for patients that really want to maintain their own teeth. Dental implants are simply far more predictable today and likely less expensive in the long run.